Success story for Okanagan Nation salmon hatchery

This Saturday marks the end of a long journey for the Okanagan Nation Alliance, particularly the Penticton Indian Band.

This Saturday marks the end of a long journey for the Okanagan Nation Alliance, particularly the Penticton Indian Band.

The new k] cpә’lk’ stim’ Salmon Hatchery, on the Penticton Indian Band, will be officially opened on Sept. 20 at 1 p.m., ready for 2014 Broodstock season.

“These are great times, for sure,” said PIB Chief Jonathan Kruger. “Our ONA fisheries department is a huge success story for our salmon, for the capacity of our nation.”

To have a new aboriginally-owned fish hatchery is another huge accomplishment Kruger continued.

“The return of Okanagan Sockeye to our fishing grounds used to be only a dream,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. “In the summer of 2010 we witnessed the salmon come back in the numbers not seen for 100 years. The work of supporting the sockeye is ongoing and continues with this new hatchery, another aspect of our collective assertion to have a rightful place in the ongoing stewardship of our lands and resources.”

Kruger notes the ONA has the largest fisheries department in the B.C. Interior.

“We have more presence on the ground working with our salmon and we have the most projects going on in our watershed,” said Kruger. “We do work with the province and (federal) Department of Fisheries and Oceans,  but we are leading the projects. That is something to be very proud of.

“That has always been our responsibility. In today’s new world, working hand in hand and still continuing that responsibility, just fills me with pride.”

The 2,300 square metre salmon hatchery will have the capacity to rear up to 8,000,000 eggs, but is currently equipped for 5,000,000 eggs from broodstock management until fry release.

The excess capacity allows for future growth and changes in fish culture activities.

“We have great visions of not only raising sockeye salmon but other species of fish,” said Kruger, who says the hatchery is the result of strong leadership from the past and the present, as well as forming partnerships with other First Nations and government groups.

The ONA and its subsidiary company, Okanagan Nation Aquatic Enterprises (OAE) Ltd., have worked in close collaboration with the Colville Confederated Tribes as well as the  Grant and Chelan Public Utility Districts in Washington State, the Penticton Indian Band, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Greyback Construction, among others, to bring this project to reality.

The hatchery is located at 155 Enowkin Trail on PIB land.